Fancy footwork, huh?

Like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

Like a worm on a hook
Like a knight from some old fashioned book
I have saved all my ribbons for thee

If I, if I have been unkind
I hope that you can just let it go by
If I, if I have been untrue
I hope you know it was never to you

Oh, like a baby, stillborn
Like a beast with his horn
I have torn everyone who reached out for me

But I swear by this song
And by all that I have done wrong
I will make it all up to thee

I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, “You must not ask for so much”
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, “Hey, why not ask for more?”

Oh, like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free

©Leonard Cohen

We were at Downtown Chamber Series last night but they had an unusual (for them) and fun band perform that isn’t typical chamber music, The Low Anthem, currently on an international tour. One of the songs they did was Bird on a Wire, by Leonard Cohen, who I love, so when I was sitting outside this morning on the bench on our porch, I got these shots of birds on wires.



Last weekend we went to one of our favorite recurring events, the Downtown Chamber Series, which is held 5 or 6 times a year. The series brings chamber music to distinctive art spaces in downtown Phoenix, showcasing professional musicians (many from the Phoenix Symphony) and the works of local artists. Additionally, wine and refreshments are served at intermission and this is all for the whopping price of 10 bucks! The series has been in existence since 2000 and we have been attending almost from the beginning.

Last week’s event was held at one of the more unusual and unique venues they frequent, the historic Icehouse, an original 1910 icehouse built along the railroad tracks formerly used to keep produce cold before shipping. The art displayed this evening was a special exhibit by some Arizona State University art students just for the two nights of the concert.

The most compelling works (in my opinion) were by ASU M.F.A. candidate Benjamin Phillips, already an award-winning sculptor, from Nova Scotia. The piece above is entitled American Oedipus. This is what Benjamin says about it: “The metaphorical implications of Sophocles’ tragic nobleman, fated to wander blind and begging seems fitting for representing the doubts and anxieties of a once great people; now seemingly doomed to a disparate future, lacking beauty and utterly vulnerable.”

The stark lighting and the shadows cast on the old brick walls and concrete floors added to the raw feeling of these almost life-sized figures.

This piece is called The Obsessive Man and is described by the artist: “T.O.M. merges the idea of obsessive compulsion with an implied peace of sleep, in the form of a sleepwalker. The conflicting signals enhance the psychological disturbance of a dream in compliment with the eccentricities of the form itself.”

This is Benjamin Phillips’ artist statement:

“The figures invoke anxieties about the body and flawed features that we tend to avoid looking and thinking about. Compiled from disparate components, sometimes in wrong scale or oddly joined, the figures project an abject discomfort and uncertainty. This unsettling representation calls upon the viewer’s willingness to empathize with another individual’s shame and/or discomfort.

My composite bodies suggest questions about how we define social status and its relationship to beauty and revulsion. These questions come to life in the physical interplay between the viewer and the sculpture. My freestanding sculptures are generally between four to five feet, to frame the object in the realm between child and elderly. This creates an expectation of frailty and subordination.”

Autumn (above) “explores aspects of uncertainty through wavering confidence, independence and grace. Autumn, the transitional season preceding winter, is portrayed off balance in mid-recline. It appears bleak, yet unresolved.”

There was another of his sculptures there, Effeme, but it was in a smaller area leading to the concert room so I didn’t photograph it but you can see it and more of his striking work on his website.

If you live in Phoenix and like music or art or downtown galleries or wine or all of the above, you should really try out the Downtown Chamber Series in March, which will be held at Modified Arts, another distinctive downtown art space.

Al Fresco

Poor Felix has been graffitied but the homeowners have left it that way quite awhile.

Both of these paintings are on houses in central Phoenix, the first in a cool, funky historic neighborhood; the second in an exclusive, older neighborhood. Note the cameras visible on the second one so that shot was a drive-by.

Want an art-filled weekend? I recommend the movie Georgia O’Keeffe with Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, who looks exactly like photos of Alfred Stieglitz. Parts of it were filmed on O’Keeffe’s New Mexico ranch and it seemed to capture the essence of those times. It’s available on video.

I’m also reading Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick, historical fiction based on the last 2 years of Vincent Van Gogh’s life. Bundrick is an art historian and sets the scene in late 1880s’ Arles well. Although she takes many liberties, much of it is based on Vincent’s letters to his brother, Theo, and others. It’s an enjoyable and interesting read.

We’ll be going to the Phoenix Art Museum tomorrow, seeing some art, and listening to the Downtown Chamber Series. The Chamber Series is held in downtown Phoenix galleries, combining music and art. In the summers, it is always held at the museum, which will be good because it’s nice and cool in there and it’s really hot (and humid) here.

A Garden Party

Well, we went to a garden party last night, which I mentioned in Thursday’s post.  It was the Downtown Chamber Series‘ 10th Anniversary Celebration.  The event was sold-out. Twelve musicians spent all day cooking and baking for 70 guests as a fundraiser for the series and then played for our listening pleasure, too.  The food and wine were great, the desserts were awesome, the music was wonderful, as always, and the setting was beautiful.  It took place in the lovely garden at the Alwun House. The Phoenix New Times recently stated that, “Alwun House arguably sired the entire downtown arts district.” The Alwun House has been around since 1971 but the big downtown arts district has only existed for the last few years.  I finally got to meet Kim Moody, the Founder and Director of Alwun House, after hearing about him for many years.



I know, flash photography, ick.


Mark Dix, Founder and Director of the Downtown Chamber Series, plays viola for the Phoenix Symphony. He works very hard planning, organizing, and working at all the (6) chamber concerts throughout the year.


The Alwun House garden is pretty yet slightly bizarre.


Thanks, Mark, and everyone, it was fun!


‘Tis the Season…

for buds, blooms, blossoms, berries…




It’s also the season for fundraisers.  Tomorrow night we are going to the Downtown Chamber Series‘ 10th Anniversary Celebration.  Musicians who play in the series, mostly Phoenix Symphony players, will not only be performing but will be cooking for the guests.  The urban garden party will be held at the Alwun House, one of the original downtown Phoenix galleries. This is the first time they have done anything like this so it should be fun and we are looking forward to it.  It’s a great organization that promotes art and music in downtown gallery settings.

Next weekend I’ll be participating in another fundraiser, Art for Health 2009.  I was in this fundraiser last year and enjoyed it so I am happy to be able to participate again.  I’ll be mentioning it in a future blog over the next few days.

After a little bit of a hot spell, with temps above 100 degrees, it’s cooling down to normal temperatures again.  Tonight is beautiful so I took a few shots in the yard and the weekend is supposed to be even nicer.